The benefits of a home lab are numerous to anyone into infosec, CTFs, and/or malware analysis. Here’s how I approached it on the cheap.

Starting a home lab

Being able to spin up and down VMs is hugely beneficial to anyone working in Infosec, or into CTFs. But knowing that I have limited time, and a super long to-do list (and I’m cheap), I was hesitent to put $500+ into building out a virtualization server that I wasn’t sure would be well used.

Enter Ebay and the 2006 Mac Pro 1,1. Back in April, I managed to pick up one with 24GB of ram for $120 on Ebay. I then ordered another 8GB of ram ($7.99), and a pair of Xeon Quad Core 2.66 GHz X5355 processors ($18.99), and I got a decently powerful machine for under $150.


The ram was easy to install – pull out the two trays and add the two new 4GB DIMMS.

The processors were a bit more work. First I had to order some thermal paste, and a new screw driver T15 Torx head. Then I followed these two vidoes:


Finally, got it up and running, showing 32GB or ram and the new processors! I’ve never been a Mac guy, and I won’t spend too much time in the os, since we’re going to boot into ESXI anyway.

I did most of this assembly around 6 months ago. But I’m finally getting around to the ESXI part now, hence the tardy documentation!